Carmel McBain is the only child of working-class Irish-Catholic parents. Her mother aspires to something more for her than what life in their depressed mill town has to offer. She is ambitious for her daughter, determined that she slip through England's rigid social barriers. And so, early on, she pushes Carmel, first to gain a scholarship to the local convent school, then to sit the exams for a place at London University. And Carmel does not disappoint. But success carries with it a fearful price. It sets her on a lonely journey that will take her as far as possible from where she began, uprooting her from the ties of class and place, of family and faith. Uprooting her ultimately from her own self. A coming-of-age novel, a memoir of a Catholic childhood, a piercing and witty look at social pretensions, a story of lost possibilities and girlhood betrayals: perhaps only a novelist of Hilary Mantel's enormous talents could have taken such material and shaped it into so fresh and arresting a tale.
English author, Dame Hilary Mary Mantel, was born in Glossop, Derbyshire in 1952. She attended St. Charles Roman Catholic primary school in the mill village of Hadfield. Her parents were actually Irish descent, but were born in England. Mantel's father divorced her mother and left when she was eleven years old. She never saw him again. Her mother did not marry, but spent her life with Jack Mantel, from whom Hilary took his name as her surname. Her schooling ended with a bachelor's degree in Jurisprudence in 1973. She then worked in social work in a geriatric hospital.
Her books include historical fiction, including a trilogy about Thomas Cromwell's rise to power under King Henry VIII. They were Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies, and The Mirror and the Light (which was just released in the UK in March of 2020). She twice won the Booker Award.
In keeping with her unconventional life, Hilary married Gerald McEwen, a geologist in 1972, and they lived in exotic places such as Botswana and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. They were divorced after he gave up geology to be her business manager, but then remarried.